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Club Licences

The Licensing Act 2003 recognises that volunteer and social clubs give rise to different issues for licensing law than commercially run premises selling direct to the public.

These clubs (such as the Royal British Legion, working men's or cricket or rugby clubs) are generally organisations where members join together for a particular social, sporting or political purpose and then combine to purchase alcohol in bulk for its members.

The clubs carry on activities from premises to which public access is restricted and alcohol is supplied other than for profit. For these reasons the 2003 Act preserves aspects of earlier alcohol licensing law which applied to 'registered members clubs' and affords clubs special treatment outside the normal premises licence arrangements.

Clubs which meet specified criteria set out in the 2003 Act are known as 'qualifying clubs' and the authority under which they may supply alcohol and conduct other 'qualifying club activities' from their premises is a club premises certificate issued by the licensing authority. The grant of a club premises certificate means that a club is entitled to certain benefits, which include the authority to supply alcohol to its members and sell it to guests without the need for any member or employee to hold a personal licence, and the absence of a requirement to specify a designated premises supervisor. There are also more limited rights of entry for the police and other authorised persons, as the premises are considered private and not generally open to the public.

The arrangements for applying for club premises certificates are extremely similar to those in respect of premises licences. For example, similar provisions apply regarding the requirement for advertisement of applications and the making of representations to the licensing authority as apply in the case of applications for premises licences.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a qualifying club?

To be classified as a qualifying club in relation to a qualifying club activity, a number of general conditions must be met. These are:

  • That under the rules of the club, persons may not be admitted to membership, or be admitted, as candidates for membership, to any of the privileges of membership without an interval of at least two days between their nomination for membership and their admission
  • That under the rules of the club, those becoming members without prior nomination or application may not be admitted to the privileges of membership without an interval of at least two days between their becoming members and their admission
  • That the club is established and conducted in good faith as a club
  • That the club has at least 25 members
  • That alcohol is not supplied to members on the premises otherwise than by or on behalf of the club

To qualify as a club authorised to supply alcohol to its members and guests, additional conditions must be met. These are:

  • The purchase and supply of alcohol by and for the club is managed by a committee made up of elected members of the club all aged over 18 years
  • No arrangements may be made for any person to receive any commission, percentage or similar payment at the expense of the club with reference to purchases of alcohol by the club
  • No arrangements may be made for any person to derive directly or indirectly any monetary benefit from the supply of alcohol to members or guests apart from to benefit the club as a whole or any indirect benefit a person derives by reason of the supply contributing to a general gain for the club as a whole

How do licensing authorities determine whether a club is established and conducted in good faith?

In determining whether a club is established and conducted in good faith, the licensing authority will have to look at a number of matters and take those into account. These matters are:

  • Any arrangements restricting the freedom of the club to purchase alcohol
  • Any arrangements where the money or property of the club or any gain arising from the running of the club can be used for purposes otherwise than for the benefit of the club as a whole or for charitable, benevolent or political purposes
  • The arrangements for giving members information about the finances of the club
  • The books of account or any other records kept to ensure accuracy of that information
  • The nature of the premises occupied by the club

What activities does a club premises certificate authorise?

A club premises certificate may authorise the conduct of any of the qualifying club activities, namely:

  • the supply of alcohol by or on behalf of the club to, or to the order of, members of the club
  • the sale by retail of alcohol by or on behalf of the club to a guest of a member of the club for consumption on the premises where the sale takes place
  • the provision of regulated entertainment (where that provision is by or on behalf of a club for members of the club or members of the club and their guests)

However, you will have to specify in the club operating schedule the qualifying club activities to which the application relates.

How do I apply for a club premises certificate?  

Application forms are available separately to print out, or fill in online. They can also be obtained, on request, from your licensing authority, and may also be available on your Local Authority's website.

Copies of the application form, including any relevant accompanying documents, must be sent to the responsible authorities on the same day as the application is given to the relevant licensing authority. Applications must also be advertised to allow interested parties to make representations.

Can I make my application by e-mail?

Applications should be made to the relevant licensing authority in writing and it is for licensing authorities to take their own view on whether to accept applications received electronically. However, applicants should note that an application or notice should not be treated as given until the completed form, fee and plan or other document or information has been received by the relevant licensing authority.

Three Rivers District Council does not accept applications by e-mail.

How are applications advertised?

In the case of an application for the grant or variation of a club premises certificate, the person making the application must display a pale blue A4 (or larger) notice, printed legibly in black ink or typed in black, in a size equal (or larger) to 16 font, prominently at or on the premises to which the application relates (where the premises covers an area of more than 50 metre squared, the same notice must be placed every 50 metres along the external perimeter of the premises). The notice must be displayed for 28 consecutive days, starting the day after the application is given to the relevant licensing authority.

In addition to this, they must publish a notice in a local newspaper (or if there is none, in a local newsletter, circular or similar document) circulating in the vicinity of the premises, at least once during the 10 working days after the application is given to the relevant licensing authority.

What information needs to be included in the advertisement?

In all cases, these notices need to state:

  • the name of the club
  • the postal address of the premises, or if none, a description to allow it to be identified
  • a statement of the licensable activities you propose to carry on the postal and website address (if any) where the relevant licensing authority's register is kept and can be inspected
  • the date by which an interested party or responsible authority may make representations that representations may be made in writing
  • that it is an offence knowingly or recklessly to make a false statement in connection with an application and the maximum fine for which a person is liable on summary conviction for the offence

In the case of an application to vary a club premises certificate, the notice must also briefly describe the proposed variation.

What is the process following advertisement?

Where all the requirements relating to the application have been met and no relevant representations are made by responsible authorities or interested parties in relation to it, the licensing authority must grant the certificate in accordance with the application, subject only to any conditions which are consistent with the club operating schedule and any mandatory conditions.

If relevant representations are received, the licensing authority must convene a hearing (unless parties agree that this is unnecessary), to consider the representations and, having regard to them, take one of a number of possible steps according to what it considers necessary for the promotion of the licensing objectives. This may result in the rejection of the application, the exclusion of a qualifying club activity, or granting of the certificate, subject to mandatory conditions or conditions which are consistent with the club operating schedule, modified to such extent as are considered necessary for the promotion of one or more of the licensing objectives. For example, if the qualifying club activity included the provision of regulated entertainment and if it was considered necessary for the promotion of the prevention of public nuisance, a licensing authority could attach a condition preventing the playing of amplified music after 11pm for a qualifying club in a quiet residential area.

What information should I include in the club operating schedule?

The club operating schedule is part of the relevant application form, in which the applicant sets out how the club premises is proposed to operate when carrying on licensable activities. It must include the following information:

  • the qualifying club activities to which the application relates
  • the proposed hours of those activities and any other times during which it is proposed that the premises are to be open to the public
  • the duration of the licence (if it is to have a fixed term)
  • where the relevant qualifying club activities include the supply of alcohol, whether the supplies are for consumption on and/or off premises
  • the steps which it is proposed to take to promote the licensing objectives (for example, the arrangements for door security to promote the prevention of crime and disorder)

The significance of the operating schedule is that if the application for the club premises certificate is granted, it will be incorporated into the certificate itself and will set out the permitted activities and the limitations on them.

What are the requirements relating to plans of club premises?

A plan of the club premises will have to be submitted with every application for a club premises certificate. The plan should be drawn in standard scale (1 millimetre represents 100 millimetres), unless previously agreed with the relevant licensing authority in writing that an alternative scale plan is acceptable. The plan will need to show:

  • the boundary of the building, if relevant, and any external and internal walls of the building and, if different, the perimeter of the premises
  • points of access and exits from the premises, and the location of escape routes if different
  • where the premises is to be used for more than one licensable activity, the area within the premises used for each activity
  • fixed structures (including furniture) or similar objects temporarily in a fixed location (but not furniture) which may impact on exits or escape routes
  • the location and height of any stage or raised area or area relative to the floor
  • any steps, stairs, elevators or lifts
  • any room or rooms containing public conveniences
  • the location and type of any fire safety and any other safety equipment including, if applicable, marine safety equipment
  • the location of a kitchen, if any, on the premises

The plan may include symbols to illustrate such matters, and a key to explain them.

How much will a club premises certificate cost?

The fee for applying for a club premises certificate is between £100 and £635, based on the non-domestic rateable value of the premises, with an annual charge of between £70 and £350. 

How long does a club premises certificate last?

Unless requested otherwise in the application form, a club premises certificate has no time limit and will continue to have effect unless it is withdrawn by the licensing authority following an application for the review of the certificate, if the club ceases to be a qualifying club or it lapses on surrender by the club.

Could a club still apply for a premises licence instead of a club premises certificate?

Yes. If a club prefers they could apply for a premises licence instead of a club premises certificate. It is for the club to determine whether the activities it wishes to undertake would be better served by a premises licence. In some circumstances a qualifying club may decide that it wishes to have both types of authorisation.

Can I still sell or supply alcohol to under 18's in the club?

No. Under the Licensing Act 2003 a club will commit an offence if alcohol is supplied by it, or on its behalf, to a member of the club who is under 18, or to the order of a member of a club, to a person who is under 18. Also, a person (e.g. a member of or employee at the club) will commit an offence if he supplies alcohol to a member of a club who is under 18, or to the order of a member of a club, to a person who is under 18. 

Does a member of the club need to be a designated premises supervisor and have to obtain a personal licence?

No. There is no requirement to have a designated premises supervisor or for a member of the club to be a personal licence holder, or for the club to employ an individual who holds a personal licence, in order for the club to be able to obtain a club premises certificate to authorise it to sell or supply alcohol. If a qualifying club decides to apply for a premises licence, then it will need to specify an individual to be the designated premises supervisor for its premises and it may only supply alcohol if the supply is made or authorised by a personal licence holder.

Do door supervisors have to be licensed by the Security Industry Authority?

No. If a qualifying club under the authorisation of a club premises certificate decides to have door supervisors for a particular event there is no mandatory condition in the Licensing Act 2003 that states they will have to be licensed by the Security Industry Authority.

Websites of interest

Licensing Act 2003 

Club Certificate Application FormsClub LicenceClub Premises Certificate FeesClub Premises Certificate OverviewQualifying Clubs